"Rant about black folks who want everything but refuse to do the basics for themselves: Earlier this week I commented on a local black radio discussion regarding attracting investment to central city neighborhoods...my prescription was to have residents demonstrate that they care about their neighborhood by cleaning up trash, plant grass if your lawn is bare, become proactive against elements that create opportunity for crime (i.e., monitor children who are just hanging out causing disruption, report crime to the police, turn on porch lights at night, etc)...people will invest in attractive neighborhoods, no business wants to locate to an area where folks don't show care...few want to invest in a business where residents aren't prone to calling police if there are break ins and thefts...the talk host poo pooed my solution to which I said then just let their neighborhood remain an armpit..I can't help black folks that refuse to help themselves...I certainly don't want those kind of black folks living around me"
As I read his post I just kept hearing EnVogue singing in my mind "Cut yo' grass! And the rest will follow!" It's hilarious to think that we are still talking about how Black people need to behave in order to get the same benefits that white people do, no matter how they act. White folk can ack'a fool but no one will ever tell them writ large to clean their yards, take down those Confederate flags, or discipline their bad kids because inherent in these biases, Black people are still seen as being in need of being controlled. Wether that control is internal or external doesn't matter. Just to keep the driven, wanton, lustful, Black masses, with their jiggly, big-bootied, neck swiveling, angry Sharkeshas from slapping a ho (unless its on reality TV); to the cherry lip-glossed Sapphires ensconced like queens on the throne on welfare; to the BBC mandigos, slangin' molly along with rap lyrics named Rasha'ad who got five baby mammas they don't take care of; and who cares if they don't 'cause they all going to prison were they belong anyway. America loves the affectation of Blackness until they have to wear the label itself then every mutha fucka wants a refund.
So here's what I said to him:
Many people (both Black and white) think the problem in poor Black, inner city areas is strewn garbage on the street and ill-behaved children. You like to blame disinvestment on people who don't clean their lawns or fit the way you think a "good Black person" should be. So why don't you use that same fervor to push business owners to build factories in cities anymore. For years, in the north especially, manufacturing jobs help lift many Black people out of poverty. Where are those jobs now? They have been sent oversees. Yet I don't see many conservatives demanding those jobs to come back. What I hear is a lot about deregulations and trickle-down economics. Unions used to help lift Black workers out of poverty. Black people were the driving force for unionization as a matter of fact. Yet union membership is actually lower now that it was BEFORE the FLSA was made into law 80 years ago. Wisconsin governor and presidential candidate, Scott Walker, prides himself on destroying unions. In the 1970s a man with a only a high school diploma could make a good living by working as a skilled-laborer on an assembly line, with good healthcare and benefits; now a man with just a high school diploma can only get a job working part-time at Micky Dees or Target for minimum wage and no benefits. If you're a single mom working 2 jobs (and remember even a woman receiving TANF has to work PT) the last thing you are going to think about is cutting the grass.
If you want the neighborhood to change you need to talk to the banks. Have them offer loans in these "trashy" neighborhoods to bring back a good housing base. Often times in these areas you describe as bad, a homeowner has to pay HIGHER interest rates than in a suburban community. So what this does is bring in slumlords who buy cheap housing for cash then rent them out. HOw about giving incentives to Black working families to move back into these areas. Many of these older neighborhoods had families at one time, but with Black flight, high interest loans, red-lining and the sheer cost of being poor many of these places have now been populated with low-income renters.
If you want these neighborhoods to change get rid of "broken windows" policing. Often we think of Black inner city neighborhoods as crime ridden when many aren't. When I lived in The Bronx, my zip code had a much lower crime rate that some of the city's more affluent neighborhoods, yet all my white friends (who had been mugged steps from their apartments) kept asking me why I lived in such an unsafe area. Stop-&-Frisk is another example of over-policing. Each year in New York City over 500,000 Black and Latino young men were stopped by cops for no reason. The overwhelming majority of them were found to have no warrants, guns, drugs, etc. If we had any other program with a 97% failure rate it would have been stopped immediately, yet this continued for over a decade because there was a perception that Black youth commit crimes all the time. Also over policing leads to the removal of millions of Black men from their communities. Right now if you are poor, white and use drugs and live in a rural trailer park you are 4 times less likely to be arrested for drug possession than a poor Black kid living in the inner city. Right now we have hundreds of thousands of Black men sitting in prison whose only crime was having a small amount of weed/ pot or crack on their person. Those men could be out in the community working, building homes, keeping up their lawns.
If you want the neighborhood to change give parents a reason to relocate to the area. Change the policy on schools (use vouchers, charters, fix the broken public schools, anything and everything to help get those kids on track). Telling somebody to plant flowers or sweep their sidewalk doesn't prevent their local schools from failing. Get rid of the school-to-prison pipeline. In a recent study it was found that in Wake Country, NC a Black elementary (yes grade-school) student was 11 times more likely to be arrested for an in-school infraction than their white counterparts. People are far less likely to go to college if they went to a school system that failed them from 1st through 12th grade. Failing schools produce failing adults.
If you want the neighborhood to change then force the city to put funds back into these places. We have starved our cities to death with tax cut after tax cut after tax cut that only end up benefiting the riches people in the community. We have been tricked by the GOP into thinking our tax cut, which may buy you a couple pairs of Jordans and a few extra pizza runs will help you. What these tax cuts do is keep more money in the pockets of the rich--who don't spend it, they just hoard it--while defunding much needed public services like buses, light-pole maintenance and the public defenders office.
So let's repeat: the prescription to bettering a neighborhood is not cutting grass or disciplining children, its creating good jobs that pay people well, keep them healthy, give them low interest loans and other incentives to buy in the neighborhood while providing their children a solid educational foundation at the same time keeping up the infrastructure. It may sound like a lot but we see this formula replicated all across America, in predominately white suburbs. We know it works there so let's apply it to inner city neighborhoods as well. But telling poor Black people that its their fault businesses won't employ them or banks won't give them money simply because they have raggedy houses with burned lawns or bad-assed loud children is not only condescending its a lie.